Can Working From Home Cost You?

More employers are offering flexible work options, but taking them may hurt your career.

Do paid parental leaves and flexible work options encourage women who might otherwise be more committed to working to 'lean out' from their careers?

I completely disagree with that premise. There is actually evidence that flexible work arrangements often encourage women who would otherwise stay home full-time to maintain their link to paid work. Sometimes the existence of flexible work options results in mothers feeling pressure to work part time. But at the same time, flexible work options often keep mothers in the workplace who otherwise would be home full-time because there is just no way that they could work at a full-time, long-hours career.

Do you think employers are less likely to promote or put men in higher positions if they take indicate they're interested in flexible arrangements?

Again it depends on the employers. Most employers expect men to work full-time, full-force for 40 years straight and penalize them if they don’t. That is not true of all employers, but it is true of most employers–and that is gender discrimination because employers don’t treat women that way. Men are often penalized for taking family leave, an arrangement that they are entitled to take. They are both discouraged from taking it and penalized if they do take it.

You implied that feminism is also perpetuating some of these problems by putting pressure on men to live up to the "ideal of work devotion." How so?

The common formulation is that feminism is about choices. But choices for whom? The formulation rests on the assumption that a woman is entitled to stay home full-time if that is what she wants to do. That means that we aren't changing the assumption that the man's duty is to support his family singlehandedly if that is what his wife wants. Women cannot insist that men perform as ideal workers if women want them to contribute 50 percent to the family responsibilities as well – that is often impossible if you are working a long-hours job.


Tell us: Do you think there's a flexibility bias against women and men? Have you experienced it?